How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking in the Car

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve got an extremely long drive ahead. You’ve got young children to look after and a partner that insists on playing truly horrendous music in the car. Making it even worse though, is your dog who’s in the back barking. Not just a quiet growl, but a penetratingly loud bark. The only positive is that he’s drowning out the sound of your partner's music. There’s just no telling him to quit the barking, he seems adamant on making as much noise as possible whenever he gets into a car. It’s the same when you take him to the vets, or to visit friends and family. 

Training him to stop barking in the car will give you some well-deserved peace and quiet. It will also mean you don’t have to walk him in the rain and the cold just because of the havoc he’ll cause if you drive him.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to bark in the car is relatively straightforward. You’ll first need to identify why he barks, then you can set about remedying it. You’ll have to take a number of measures to keep him calm and subdued in the car. You’ll also need to use obedience commands to teach him to be quiet. If he’s a puppy, his brain should be malleable and you can expect results in as little as a week. If he’s older and had this noisy habit for many years then you may need up to three weeks to fully kick the habit.

Training him to be quiet will mean you can drive safely. You won’t be distracted by your barking dog, you’ll actually be able to concentrate on the road.

Getting Started

Before you can get to work, you’ll need to gather a few things. Treats or his favorite food will be essential. You’ll also need some toys and possibly some food puzzles. These will help keep him distracted when he’s in the car.

Find 10 minutes a day you can set aside for training, when you won’t be distracted by a noisy household. You’ll also need to have access to a car to practice in over the next few weeks.

Once you’ve got the above, you can get to work!

The Distraction Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Exercise
Before you go on a drive, make sure he’s had plenty of exercise. If he’s restless then he may bark simply to release some pent up energy. Give him a long walk, or throw a ball for 15 minutes for him. A tired dog is a quiet dog.
Step
2
Meet all his needs
Make sure before a long drive in particular that he’s done everything he needs to, the toilet for example. If he’s been to the toilet and he’s got access to water and a towel or blanket to lie on, then he won’t bark to signal to you that he needs something.
Step
3
Food puzzles
When you get in the car, give him a food puzzle. You can buy puzzles that will keep him distracted and preoccupied for hours. If it’s got his favorite food inside then all his attention will be focused on that.
Step
4
Toys
Have someone else play gently with him in the car. He may simply want attention. Don’t get him so worked up he’s jumping around, but play a little tug of war and stroke him. This will stem any and all attention-seeking barking.
Step
5
Down time
Once you’ve played around for a while, have some down time. Talk in a quiet and soft voice. Dogs mirror their owners behavior, so if someone in the back can stroke him gently this should subdue him. It will also prevent any barking that’s a result of him being scared to be in the car.
Recommend training method?

The ‘Quiet’ Method

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Step
1
Monitor
Look for situations that naturally cause him to bark. These could be when you’re putting together his meals, or securing him to his leash for a walk. You’re going to use these moments to teach him to be quiet, a command that will come in extremely useful in the car.
Step
2
‘Quiet’
Put him in the bark-inducing situation and then wait patiently. As soon as he stops barking, issue a ‘quiet’ command, giving it in an upbeat but clear voice. You can use any word or phrase you like.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as you’ve given the command, give him a tasty treat and some praise. The better the treat the more likely he’ll be to follow your instruction again. Now practice this for 10 minutes every day.
Step
4
Use in the car
Now put him in the car and head off down the road. As soon as he barks, issue your ‘quiet’ command. Then when he does go quiet, throw him a treat. If he won’t follow your command in the car, go back to practicing in the house for a few more days.
Step
5
Lose the treats
When he finally gets the hang of it, you can stop giving him tasty rewards. Use the command every time and he’ll soon realize what is and isn’t expected of him in the car. The barking will eventually subside.
Recommend training method?

The Deterrence Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Spray bottle
When you’re in the car, have a passenger or someone in the back squirt water near his face when he barks. This quick, sharp spray will quickly signal to him that barking won’t be tolerated.
Step
2
Collars
You can also get collars that are automatically triggered when he barks. The citronella collar, for example, will emit an unpleasant spray near his face. Simply fit the collar before you get in a car. This will further deter him.
Step
3
‘NO’
Often, consistent disapproval from an owner can help stamp out an unfavorable habit. Whenever he barks, in a clear and firm voice say ‘NO’ in his direction. Don’t terrify him, but make sure he knows you mean business.
Step
4
Cover his crate
If you put him in a crate in the car and he starts barking, try putting a towel or blanket over it. If he can’t see what’s going on, he won’t get so worked up and he won’t bark. When he stops barking you can then remove it and give him another chance to stay quiet.
Step
5
Positive reinforcement
While deterring him with the measures above, also reward him with treats and attention when he doesn’t bark. This combination of positive and negative reinforcement will swiftly get the message across.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
rocky
Pitbull mix
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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rocky
Pitbull mix
9 Months

When on trips to the store or just out and about rocky is growling and barking at people who are not even acknowledging him, he has also started barking spontaneously at strangers when walking through a store such as lowes when they try to approach him, but strangely he'll let kids pet him

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Keegan, I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and works with a team of trainers, so that you can work with them to counter condition pup to strangers, i.e. the other trainers on staff, while also working on building pup's overall trust and respect for you through obedience practice and adding in more routines. Check out Thomas Davis from America's Canine Educator on Youtube also. Always keep in mind safety measures whenever you are dealing with potential aggression, even if pup has never bitten anyone. At this age pup is starting to mature mentally and sexually and as you approach the 1-2 year mark things like possessiveness, territorial behavior, protectiveness, defensiveness, and dominant traits are more likely to emerge. This is something best addressed early instead of waiting, and it will be easiest to address quickly if you have access to people who can practice being strangers in a controlled environment, who know how to behave around pup and manage the interactions. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oreo and coco
Pomeranian
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oreo and coco
Pomeranian
2 Months

Can’t stop barking when put on the car seat or playpen. What can I do to help. I work nights and want them to get used to being in playpen for 10 hrs. Thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jazzmin, Surprise method for the pen: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate For the car, check out the overcoming fear method. Pup is likely nervous in the car since it's new. I also recommend having puppies ride in the down position either using a crate or a car harness tethered to encourage pup to stay seated or lying down. When a puppy moves about the car and looks out the window it can increase car sickness, get them overly excited, and then increase anxiety and reactivity in the car. Once a puppy is used to riding calmly often a little more freedom in the car can be given later, but lying in the down position in a crate or car harness is always safest. If you use a crate, be sure to secure it so that it won't slide when you stop or turn. Overcoming Fear method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-car-rides Quiet method for teaching the Quiet command too - although the underlying newness or the crate and car also needs to be addressed. The desensitizing method from this article is also a bit like what you will be doing in the pen and car. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oscar
Labrador x German shepherd
18 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Oscar
Labrador x German shepherd
18 Months

He pulls constantly while walking on his leash. Tried all sorts to stop this but to no avail

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andrew, Check out the article and video I have linked below. If pup is aggressive or reactive or fearful or other dogs or people, the lack of progress could also be because an underlying fear or aggression needs to be addressed also. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Bes of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tessa
Aussiedoodle
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tessa
Aussiedoodle
1 Year

Tessa travels in a crate in the car. She barks non-stop whether the crate is covered or not. Have also tried favorite toys, treats, bully sticks, frozen KONG, etc. I think she has developed a "behavior chain" and have not been able to break or change it.

Trip from California to Texas in December - she barked almost constantly for 21 hours. We're at our wits end. We want her to be able to travel with us, but her barking has created a lot of dissention between my husband and me and we never look forward to having her accompany us. We are working with a trainer, and at her suggestion are planning to try a Citronella collar next.

Any helpful advice would be great appreciated.

Thanks,

Peggy Sloan
406-468-4086

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Peggy, I would recommend two things. First, I would work on desensitizing pup to the car by working up to the car gradually. Teach the Quiet command at home first: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay and Quiet commands on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down and Quiet, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. Second, pup may still need an interruptor because of how aroused they get in the car. You want to work pup up to the car gradually though because once in the car pup is probably too aroused to even be in a position to learn mentally. Working up to it gradually helps pup's brain be engaged enough to start to understand what you want them to do, be in a state to actually choose to do it, and start committing it to memory. If pup chooses to bark still once they are able to be quiet, then that's when an interrupter comes in. Instead of a citronella collar I would actually pursue low level e-collar training, vibration or stimulation unless pup is responsive enough to tone - which is unlikely with their history. Even though the remote collar may seem more harsh than the citronella collar, a citronella collar will linger for up to an hour for pup with their sensitive nose, and it's actually a very harsh correction because of how sensitive a dog's nose is (even though for us it's not harsh). Having a correction that continues (via smell) after pup gets quiet again is confusing for learning with this behavior. You need something that can be done right when pup barks, then immediately stopped as soon as pup is quiet with as little dramatics as possible. If you go the remote training collar route, know that not all collars or uses are the same. You need a collar with at least 60 levels, and to find pup's working level - which is the lowest level that pup feels the collar while calm. It's that low level that's used for the barking in combination with the training I already mentioned - it becomes a physical sensation to get pup's attention without adding tons of extra stress hormones from a higher level correction, that enforces the commands you have already taught and the training pup has the skills to learn from working up the car. Check out trainers like James Penrith from taketheleaddogtraining on youtube for more information on e-collar training. Only use high quality brands like dogtra, sportdog, garmin, or e-collar technologies. You can also try a spray collar that uses unscented air, instead of citronella spray, to interrupt pup. Many citronella collars can also switch their citronella canisters out for unscented air canisters in place of the citronella. Similar to vibration it can be enough to get some dogs attention remotely. I find that many dogs don't respond to the unscented air with behaviors like you are describing, so you end up having to buy a second thing anyway, but you can absolutely try that first. I just don't recommend citronella for barking. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Buzz
Working Cocker Spaniel
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Buzz
Working Cocker Spaniel
3 Years

He whines in the car non stop every time we go to the beach or park or a relative location. We taught the quiet command in the house for when he barks at the post man and seems to work a bit, but when we try to use it in the car he completely ignores us.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gracie, I recommend working on Quiet, Down-Stay, and overall calmness in the car. To do that, you will need to work up to the car riding gradually. Right now pup is likely too aroused in anticipation of a trip to be able to control themselves. You will need to start with more calm scenarios and build up to actual drives to help pup succeed. I recommend desensitizing pup to the car and slowing the overall process down. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay and Quiet commands on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down and Quiet, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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